Campus dessert shop closes suddenly
Artisserie Chocolate Cafe on Walnut Street closed on Aug. 14
August 27, 2013, 5:54 pm · Updated August 27, 2013, 7:16 pm·
Luke Chen | DP
Penn will have to search elsewhere for peanut butter cupcakes and chocolate eclairs.
Artisserie Chocolate Cafe, a favorite for pastries and coffee, closed on Aug. 14.
The cafe employees were given no prior knowledge of the closure, which one says happened due to a buyer issue. The owner was planning to sell the cafe, but at the last minute the buyer was no longer “Penn approved.” According to the former employees, Human Resources gave them 30 minutes notice on the 14th to clean out the store and leave.
According to Ed Datz, executive director of real estate at Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services, Artisserie Chocolate “came to us with a request for early termination of their lease due to business reasons.” FRES was notified Aug. 14 of the decision to close the store the same day, and the amicable termination of the lease was effective Aug. 31.
“We have multiple parties interested in the space, and we hope to announce a new tenant later this fall,” Datz added.
The cafe’s closure “was a complete surprise and we were all devastated,” former barista Kate LaBrake said in an email.
New Jersey’s Artisserie Bakery will remain open, but no there are no other cafe locations in Philadelphia.
Computer science professor Max Mintz is particularly disappointed by Artisserie’s closing. Mintz regularly held office hours at the cafe and taught smaller classes there towards the end of each semester.
“The staff was absolutely wonderful,” Mintz said. “It isn’t just the coffee. It’s the people and the product.”
Engineering senior Trisha Kothari often attended Mintz’s office hours at the cafe — and enjoyed the atmosphere and the thick hot chocolate.
Mintz first discovered Artisserie the day before it opened.
“When I first saw it I said, ‘This is going to be my new office,’” Mintz said.
He is currently debating options for this semesters’ office hours — his top contenders as of now are the Penn Bookstore, Cosi and the Starbucks on 34th and Walnut streets. Still, none of the places have the same feel of Artisserie.
Former barista Julie Murphy echoed the cafe’s sense of community. “You were going to see your friends and work at the same time,” she said.
Despite the connection between the staff and customers, students are less disappointed about losing Artisserie’s cuisine.
“[The closing] is not unexpected at all,” Wharton and College senior Taylor McConnell, who often ate free Artisserie cupcakes through a friend who worked there, said. With the exception of the carrot cake cupcake, the offerings there were unspectacular, he added.
Still, many will remember the friendships made through Artisserie.
“Every memory I have of the place is a great one,” LaBrake said.